Let’s take a look at tonight’s GSC West games.
Delta State (13-1 overall, 4-0 GSC West) at Central Arkansas (11-4, 4-1)
The top two teams in the conference standings will be locked in a battle for first place tonight in Conway. UCA didn’t get Darryl Jones back soon enough, and they’ll certainly need his scoring presence tonight. I don’t think it will be enough, since DSU can match their guard play and is much stronger inside. Jasper Johnson could have another big game, and I expect his Statesmen to improve to 5-0.
Computer prediction: DSU 73-70
My prediction: DSU 74-68
Southern Arkansas (5-11, 2-3) at Arkansas-Monticello (9-6, 2-2)
This should be a test for both teams from the lower part of the state. UAM is fighting to stay over .500, while SAU is surprising a few people by nearly reaching that mark. Kenny Langhorne has been very solid recently, and if the Muleriders ever figure out that they should be playing Brandon White a lot more (aPER of 21.77), they could be even better. They need some guards to step up and play well in this one, where they will face the most devastating pair in the division in J.B. Williams and Nate Newell. Both of them get to the free throw line and make their shots, Newell is a great outside threat, and Williams is a solid passer who can take it to the hole. J.B. is also a great rebounding guard, and I’m excited to see him in person for the first time in a few weeks. SAU has played well to start the conference season, but I don’t see them being able to keep up with the Weevils in this one. UAM’s strengths are just too much to overcome.
Computer prediction: UAM 73-65
My prediction: UAM 71-66
Henderson State (6-7, 2-3) at Ouachita Baptist (10-7, 2-2)
This is probably the most heated rivalry in the GSC (I’m sorry, but Henderson State and Harding just won’t cut it), mainly because both universities share a town with half the population of Searcy. Thus, it’s not really much of a road game for Henderson State, since it’s practically played across the street. The Reddies have more talent on paper in this one, but I think the Tigers’ coaching and team play will give them a slight edge in this one. HSU can beat anyone, but on this stage, I’ll go with Lucky Butler and company. HSU will need a huge game from big man Kelvin Brown and improvement from enigmatic fellow-big man Dedric Spooner if they want to take this one.
Computer prediction: OBU 61-60
My prediction: OBU 62-60
Harding (9-5, 1-3) at Christian Brothers (8-6, 2-2)
If you go by aggregate conference winning percentage, this is the least-exciting matchup among tonight’s games. I would venture a guess that you don’t, though, so hopefully you still care about the Bisons’ fate in Memphis this evening. HU desperately needs a win against a Bucs team that has been shooting exceptionally well so far. Star soph forward Kevin Weybright has struggled of late, but Sam Bradley has not, and the Bucs have still played some solid basketball. Freshman big man Nick Kohs is also coming on strong, which is bad news for the Bisons, who struggle on the glass. CBU hasn’t been much better, though, so this could play to the Bisons’ strength if they can play some solid defense. It will probably take as focused a performance as the UCA game did, but I think HU can pull it out. The shots are bound to fall eventually, especially if the right people start taking them at the right times.
Computer prediction: CBU 79-78
My prediction: HU 79-76